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12/07/2014

Big 12 playoff fiasco is about the name on the front of the jersey, not the back

WACO, Texas - Blame is 75 percent of the fun of sports, and in places such as Waco and Fort Worth no one is receiving more faux love than Bob Bowlsby. The Big 12 commissioner is the reason neither TCU nor Baylor is in the college football playoff.

It's not on Bowlsby. It's on TCU. It's on Baylor.

CwQVZ.St.58As expected/feared, the top two teams in the Big 12 did not receive an invite to the first ever "Final Four". Instead, both teams will carry the distinction of "The First Two Out", which are not likely to be printed into T-shirts and hats.

As expected, the "playoffs" - i.e. BCS plus 2 - are:
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl.
No. 2 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 3 Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl.

In the very end, for some reason, the College Football Playoff selection committee finally moved Baylor ahead of TCU. It only took seven weeks.

No. 5 Baylor
No. 6 TCU

And - who cares? Baylor is not celebrating this "achievement". Why did the committee wait until its final poll to factor in the Bears' 61-58 win against TCU back on Oct. 11? Because the committee does whatever it wants, and no PR firm or amount or lobbying from the Big 12 boss was ever going to change anything.

Art-brilesImmediately after Baylor's win against Kansas State on Saturday night in Waco, Baylor coach Art Briles took Bowlsby to task for not presenting his team as the team to present to the committee. Briles was fighting for his team, and while his tact was not ideal, he did what he had to do.

What Briles, and TCU head coach Gary Patterson, and both fan bases need to accept is that it didn't matter. The committee was always going to do whatever it wanted, and the moment it could justify a bigger, power school over TCU or Baylor they were going to do it.

The committee did not care about co-champions. The committee wanted to hear anybody but TCU or Baylor.

Yes - had the Big 12's two best teams been Texas or Oklahoma the conversation would have changed. 

TCU and Baylor have done so much, and still have an enormous perception problem. You hear those names, and it's just different than hearing "Oregon", "Ohio State", "Texas", "Florida State".

Despite Briles' lobbying and the considerable success these two teams have had in the past five years, they are not considered equal to Oregon, Alabama, or Ohio State. It may be shortsighted, and stupid, yet it is not plausible to examine this Final Four bracket and think otherwise.

The irony is TCU was thrilled to leave the Mountain West Conference for the Big 12 because it no longer had to be perfect to qualify for a big bowl. Now the Horned Frogs know perfection is the only way to go.
Baylor needs to be perfect, too.

It's not fair. It's not right. And it's not Bowlsby's fault.

Now Baylor and TCU know what they need to do: Not lose. 
Now Bowlsby knows what his conference needs to do: Have Texas or Oklahoma as the teams to "present".

@MacEngelProf
Fort Worth Weekly's 2014 Hottest Local Male Celebrity
tengel@star-telegram.com
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Comments

Jeff

Often you come across as too TCU for my liking but this article is spot on to my opinion on all of this as well. Good work. FYI read "Death to the BCS" to get more insight on the bias (crookedness) involved in bowl season.

Michael Kelly Schurman

Nothing against Texas or Oklahoma. I've been a Longhorn fan since I lived in Austin when they had two National Championships in '69 and '70. And as much ill as I sometimes feel toward them in the fall, how can you not admit the quality of the Oklahoma program?

But these folks need to take both TCU and Baylor seriously. Both these football programs have been, are still and will be for a while on the way up. They're not going away and whatever random playoff format is used from year to year, there will be Horned Frogs and Bears right there in the midst of the action.

Jose Posada

Good article Mac, but you are wrong on one thing. Had Baylor or TCU had gone 12-0 ... they still would have been left out. Only in a scenario where there are absolutely no other options left will schools like Baylor or TCU get in. A 12-1 Ohio State would passed them. FACT

howard zoss

As an Ohio State grad I do feel for Baylor and TCU ... here is the real issue ... 8 teams not 4 .. NCAA not smart on this one .. we can argue who should be 4th .. but if there are 8 teams than you can say to #9 .. you should have been better

Doug

If Bowlsby remains the Big 12 commissioner after Baylor plays on Jan. 1, I'm turning my season tickets back in. A pathetic weasel doesn't deserve to be rewarded with a salary that comes from our ticket sales.

The only spineless AD worse than our Commish is Jeff Long. Here's hoping the Longhorns beat the hell out of Long's Razorbacks and that fans in Houston treat him with all the disdain he deserves. That's if he has the cahones to even show up at the Texas Bowl. I doubt he'd get applause.

John

The Fix was in, that's for sure. What bothers me is the way that ESPN quickly overwhelmingly supported the inclusion of Ohio State, and immediately branded any dissent as "sour grapes." it was almost like they were defending their own decision. How much contact did ESPN representatives have with the CFP committee during this past week? Certainly a big state university from a big conference like Ohio State would be a more attractive TV option for ESPN than the small private schools TCU or Baylor. Is it just a coincidence that the two small private schools were left out? How fair is it that the Big Ten actually benefitted from one of their division champions not showing up in the championship game? Was that just a coincidence?

Bob Paschal

I'll sum it up this way: the action by that Selection Committee had to be the worst case of "unsportsmanlike conduct" in the history of football. The UPGRADED TCU to no. 3 last week, probably causing a lot of people to adjust their holiday plans. Then, with ZERO additional data on TCU, except for its impressive 55-3 victory on Saturday, they arbitrarily tossed them out. That action has outside influence and ulterior motive written all over it. Having representatives of competing institutions on that committee is an invitation to conflicts of interest as well. I have to wonder whether the U.of Arkansas (whose rep chaired the committee) had tried to hire TCU Coach Patterson during the past few years. Or Baylor Coach Briles? No fury like that of a competitor, after someone has declined to double-cross their employr and come to work to the competttor

stanley

Great article Mac and spot on.

The real power in college football is ESPN as it always comes back to the money. It's not the NCAA, or in fact the CFP Committee, it's where the big money is - they had a chance to get Meyer vs. Saban and they took it. Not that Ohio St. doesn't deserve a hard look but it's the money.

Had TCU or Baylor gone undefeated, still probably would have not made the cut since they would have been going up against the 59-0 scenario. How is it possible to fall from 3rd. to 6th. in 1 week and win 55-3?

James Van Tilburg

@ stanley (re: your last statement "How is it possible to fall from 3rd to 6th in 1 week and win 55-3?")....EASY ANSWER!---It's the fact that you played a team that the best H.S team in the country could've beaten by the same score (ISU)!!....When the team that leapfrogs you beats the 13th ranked team (with a HEISMAN TROPHY CONTENDING RB no less) 59-0 with a 3rd string QB, you are bound to get leapfrogged in the polls!....Get 2 more teams in your conference, have a conference championship game, and DON'T PLAY A CUPCAKE TEAM for your last game of the season!....Problem solved

stanley

James, responding to your post on playing cupcakes - cannot do anything about that - the conference sets the conference schedule. What should we have done, take a knee at halftime?

See you down in Texas in a couple of years @ the Carter.

Rob Tentoy

You know, this Iowa State-Cupcake nonsense needs to stop. It's a conference game. TCU didn't go out of their way schedule Iowa State, they had to play them. It was just unfortunate that A)Iowa State was the last team on their schedule (somebody had to play Iowa State on Dec. 6... could have been Baylor) and B) Iowa State didn't live up to expectations (they were supposed to be better this year).

As to the Conference Championship Game argument, I remain unconvinced that it would have changed anything this year.
Had everything else gone the exact same way (which is hard to say since a CCG would imply 2 divisions where every team didn't play every other team... Baylor could have not had WVU on the schedule at all):
-TCU would likely still have been ranked higher than tOSU and BU on Dec. 5, but TCU would have had no chance anyway since the magical CCG would automatically make them worse than either team simply on the idea that TCU played one less game
-had there been a CCG, it would most likely have been the same matchup anyway: KState vs BU. The only difference is that it would have been at a neutral site which increases the likelihood that Baylor's win would have been closer than it was in Waco or that KSU outright wins

Based on ridiculous argumnets about TCU's final opponent and CCGs, it would have played out exactly the same. Even if Baylor had been crowned the decisive (by CCG application) Big12 Champ, their CCG would have been "less impressive" than the Big10 CCG and that would have been all the Committee needed to put tOSU (which was ahead of Baylor anyway) in as #4.

The Playoff was decided by money and politics. There is absolutely zero chance that the BU or TCU were getting in short of going undefeated.

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